Franklin Airman

1932 Franklin Airman Sedan

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Franklin, whose air-cooled cars first hit the market in 1903, decided to move slightly upmarket in the early 1930s with the introduction of a V12 model. This was bad timing, as the economy had crashed, and engineering an entirely new engine was a big financial outlay, one that would not be recouped. Franklin was gone after 1934.

Another thing that happened in the early 1930s was that Franklin switched from “Model 123” nomenclature to actually giving their models names. The Airman was introduced in 1932 and was joined by the Olympic in 1933. The Airman was their only product in 1932, and it was offered in a variety of body styles. Power came from a 4.5-liter air-cooled inline-six making 100 horsepower.

Franklin was America’s most successful manufacturer of air-cooled cars, and this later model is a rarity. This car appears largely original and carries an estimate of $25,000-$30,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $18,150.

1932 BMW 3/20

1932 BMW 3/20 AM1

Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | August 29, 2020

Photo – Dorotheum

In 1904, a car company sprang up in Eisenach, Germany, that sold vehicles under the Dixi brand. In 1928, BMW took over that company. BMW dated back to 1916, but they didn’t produce their first car until after taking over Dixi. The Dixi 3/15 was an Austin Seven built under license, and they were branded as BMWs from 1929 through 1932.

The followup to the Dixi 3/15 was the BMW 3/20. That technically makes this the first BMW car, as the Dixi was not initially a BMW. It still used the Austin engine – a 788cc inline-four making 20 horsepower. The car itself was larger than its predecessor and was built in four versions, with this, the AM1, being the first.

The 3/20 was manufactured between 1932 and 1934. These early BMWs are very rare. Most pre-ware Bimmers offered at auction are just 328s. These are unusual. And interesting. It should bring between $14,000-$21,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $23,843.

Duesenberg J-143

1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, bodied more Duesenberg Model Js than any other coachbuilder, and their most popular body style was this, the convertible coupe. While only 25 were built with a convertible soft top, that was enough to make it the top seller among a very limited production run.

Power, of course, is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight good for 265 horsepower. This car is apparently one of a few Duesenbergs owned by gangster Jake the Barber. It was restored in 1995 and was purchased by the current owner, Keith Crain, about 16 years ago.

Crain is dumping a few classics at this sale, all at no reserve… which is interesting. You can see more about this car here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,132,500.

Duesenberg J-490

1932 Duesenberg Model J Stationary Victoria by Rollston

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

A few weeks ago we featured a Model J Duesenberg with engine number J-490X. The X is said to denote a factory rebuild and restamp. Why they would’ve restamped it with a number of an engine that was already out there in another car is beyond me.

This car is said to retain its original chassis, body, and 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine. The body is by Rollston, and it is a one-off creation that was specially ordered to resemble Rollston’s convertible victoria – but in fixed-roof fashion.

It has known ownership history since new and was “cosmetically restored” at some point in the past. I think that’s another way of saying a body-on restoration. You can see more about this car here and more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,325,000.

Duesenberg J-490X

1932 Duesenberg Model J Tourster

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 9, 2020

Photo – Mecum

So what’s the deal with the engine number on this one? The Model J that carries engine J490 is out there, alive and well. But this car also has a 265 horsepower, Lycoming 6.9-liter straight-eight that has “J490” stamped on it. But it also has an “X”… which most likely means this engine was returned to the factory during the 1930s, rebuilt, restamped, and sold. It probably carried a different number prior to the factory rebuild.

Meanwhile, engine J490 was probably rebuilt separately and used in another car. Remanufactured or not (many of these engines have been rebuilt over the years), this is still a real-deal Duesey engine and a real-deal Model J frame. The body, however, is a reproduction of a Derham Tourster.

This car is said to originally have had a Derham body, but it could’ve been a sedan or something and probably wasn’t one of the original eight Toursters. With this muddled history, the car is expected to fetch between $350,000-$450,000. A bargain. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $522,500.

Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl

1932 Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl Phaeton by Binder

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2020

Photo – Gooding & Company

The J12 was the pinnacle of Hispano-Suiza motorcars. It was introduced in 1931 and replaced the H6 line of cars that dated back to 1919. The model was produced by the French arm of the company and lasted through the end of Hispano-Suiza production in 1938.

It’s powered by a 9.4-liter V12 equipped with two carburetors and good for 220 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. It was no slouch in its day. This car carries beautiful dual cowl phaeton coachwork from Binder. Of the 114 examples of the J12 built, only 10 survivors are open cars.

Provenance is where this car really shines. It was purchased by Briggs Cunningham in 1954. It later made its way to the Collier Collection in Florida, where it remained until it went back to the West Coast in 1988, entering the Blackhawk Collection. That’s where the current owner bought it in the 1990s. That’s quite the lineage. The expected price tag is $1,500,000-$2,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,425,000.

Duesenberg J-354

1932 Duesenberg Model J Victoria Coupe by Judkins

For Sale at Hyman Ltd. | St. Louis, Missouri

Photo – Hyman Ltd.

When you bought a Model J Duesenberg, what you were buying from the company was a chassis, engine, firewall, and front grille. The rest of the car, more or less, would come from a coachbuilder of your choosing.

But someone had designed that front grille – so what if that guy designed the entire package? Well that someone was Gordon Buehrig, and he designed the Victoria Coupe for Judkins, who applied the bodywork to two separate short-wheelbase Model J chassis. This is one of them.

It’s powered by a 6.9-liter straight-eight putting out 265 horsepower. This car has known ownership history back to new and was restored in the early 1990s, with a more recent freshening. It’s been in the Hyman Ltd collection for four years and is now for sale for just a smidge under $2 million. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold, RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2019.

Boattail Auburn V-12

1932 Auburn 12-160A Boattail Speedster

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 16, 2019

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

While skimming Worldwide’s Scottsdale catalog, I realized we’ve never featured an Auburn, which is a shame as they were great cars. Worldwide have a few on offer, so I picked the most beautiful one I could find, which happens to be a real 12-cylinder Auburn wearing a real Boattail Speedster body, that just so happened to have been transferred to this car from an 8-cylinder Auburn.

So the body isn’t original to this chassis, big deal. The 12-cylinder Auburn went on sale in 1932 and would last only through 1934. It’s a 6.4-liter Lycoming V-12 that makes 160 horsepower. It was the prime example of “cheap” performance of its day, coming in at almost a third of the price of Caddy’s V-12.

These disappearing-top boattail speedsters are the best of the bunch, body-style-wise. New, this car would’ve cost $1,275. Today, even with a non-original period-correct body, it should cost $250,000-$350,000. But it is selling at no reserve, so who knows? Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $291,500.

Duesenberg J-546

1932 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline by Rollston

Offered by Mecum | Las Vegas, Nevada | November 15-17, 2018

Photo – Mecum

Rollston was a coachbuilder based in New York City between 1921 and 1938. It was founded by Harry Lonschein, Sam Blotkin, and Julius Veghso. So what’s with the name? Well Lonschein was a former Brewster employee, a company strongly associated with Rolls-Royce of America. So he named his new company after Rolls-Royce. Fun fact.

This Model J is powered by a 6.9-liter straight-eight engine that makes 265 horsepower. A 3-speed manual transmission sends power rearward, and this car wears a one-off convertible sedan body by Rollston. It was restored in the 1990s.

This car has known ownership history from new, as it was purchased new by a member of the Vanderbilt family. Other owners included Dean Kruse from 1998 to 2007, John O’Quinn from 2007 until 2010, and the Academy of Art University Collection since 2010. It’s an immaculately-clean example and should bring about a million bucks. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Withdrawn from sale.

Update: Sold, Mecum Phoenix 2019, $880,000.

Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe

1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Marmon of Indianapolis introduced their Sixteen model in 1931. It was their top-of-the-line model that year, sitting alongside three different eight-cylinder models. In 1932 the Sixteen was offered alongside a single eight-cylinder model. 1933 was Marmon’s last and the brilliant Sixteen was the only model you could get.

There haven’t been many sixteen cylinder cars in history. Cadillac’s V-16 was the chief rival for this car, as were cars like the Duesenberg Model J. The engine here is an 8.0-liter V-16 that makes 200 horsepower. That kind of power aimed it squarely at the Model J. In 1931, a Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe would set you back $5,300. A Model J would’ve cost $9,500 as a bare chassis. The body was extra.

This particular car was purchased by Bill Harrah and restored in the 1960s. It’s next owner didn’t acquire the car until 1987 and the current owners bought it from him. It still sports Harrah’s restoration, a testament to the quality of work he pursued for his cars. Fewer than 400 Marmon Sixteens were built and eight with with this body style are known to exist. They do not change hands often. It should bring between $1,000,000 and $1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of the lots in this sale.

Update: Sold $962,000.